Drunken College Sex Parties and the Politics of Gender

by James A. Bacon

Modern American universities are strange places. They concentrate populations of 18- to 22-year-old youth at the peak of their sexual appetites, celebrate unbridled sex through sex festivals and the dispensing of free condoms, tolerate party scenes of wild drunkenness and hook-ups, then get morally self-righteous about a phantasmagorical “rape culture.” Writing in City Journal, Heather MacDonald describes the campus descent into wanton hedonism and the bizarre, politically correct embrace by liberal administrators of a “campus rape industry.”

Colleges and universities now have administrative staff whose job is to fret about the rape culture, 99% of which does not resemble anything you or I would consider rape (involuntary sex, usually under threat of violence), and have set up quasi-judiciary institutions to mete out gender justice. (Parents, this is just one of many reasons your college tuition bills are increasing!)

Sadly, MacDonald draws much of her material from the University of Virginia and the College of William & Mary, with a stray quote thrown in from James Madison University. The epidemic of so-called rape stems largely from drunken sexual encounters, leading to situations like this incident at W&M:

In October 2005, at a Delta Delta Delta formal, drunken sorority girls careened through the host’s house, vomiting, falling, and breaking furnishings. One girl ran naked through a hallway; another was found half-naked with a male on the bed in the master suite. A third had intercourse with her escort in a different bedroom. On the bus back from the formal, she was seen kissing her escort; once she arrived home, she had sex with a different male. Later, she accused her escort of rape. The district attorney declined to prosecute the girl’s rape charges. William and Mary, however, had already forced the defendant to leave school and, even after the D.A.’s decision, wouldn’t let him return until his accuser graduated. The defendant sued his accuser for $5.5 million for defamation; the parties settled out of court. …

In the fall semester of 2005, rape charges spread through William and Mary like witchcraft accusations in a medieval village. In short succession after the Delta Delta Delta bacchanal, three more students accused acquaintances of rape. Only one of these three additional victims pressed charges in court, however, and she quickly dropped the case.

Universities respond to the drunken hook-up culture with politically correct nonsense. Modern feminists defend the right of women to be sexually promiscuous. But when a drunken 20-year-old woman regrets a sexual encounter with a drunken 20-year-old man, the charge is defined as rape and the man is presumed guilty. To see how detached from reality the Ivory Tower is, just Google some combination of words as “drunken college sex parties,” and take a gander at the results. Combine Fellini’s Satyricon with Millennial Generation exhibitionism — college kids are filming this stuff and putting it online — and this is what you get. If you’re a Boomer like me, you’ll never think about college the same. If you’re a Gen-Xer, you might seriously think about providing your kid a different kind of higher-ed experience.

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21 responses to “Drunken College Sex Parties and the Politics of Gender

  1. Unfortunately, you see the same kind of false accusations in the military as well. I am not saying that there aren’t legitimate cases but when majority of females are crying wolf, it burdens the creditable ones.

  2. Starting this Fall I’ll have three of my five sons in college. I’ve tried to talk to them about this situation. However, it’s a challenge.

    Some things are easy to explain:

    1. No means no.
    2. Any woman who is passed out or staggering around in a booze and/or drug induced stupor needs to be left alone – even if she drunkenly comes on to you.

    What gets much more difficult is defining when somebody is too impaired to give consent. I know a lot of people (men and women) who can consume copious amount of booze and seem pretty normal. You’ll see them at a party and they are witty and loquacious. The next day they can’t recall half of what happened the prior night. Even experienced police officers can’t always tell when a person is drunk – hence the field sobriety tests and breathalyzers.

    The other problem is that the boys are usually at least as drunk as the girls. If a drunk boy and a drunk girl have sex – who raped whom?

    Given the stories I have read it doesn’t seem like raising the drinking age to 21 made a bit of a difference on campus.

    • You’re giving your sons good advice. I give mine more or less the same.

      First rule: Never get so stinking drunk that you lose control over your behavior.
      Second rule: Even if you’re innocent in the eyes of the law, as far as your mom and dad are concerned, you’re always responsible for your actions.
      Third rule: Treat women with dignity and respect (even if they don’t seem to deserve it).
      Fourth rule: If you want to act like a beast, don’t bother coming home, and don’t expect us to pay your college tuition.

  3. I’m kinda interested in the cultural and historical dimensions of this.

    First off, I was in high school from 1966 to 1970 and in college until 1974 — in other words from hippies to disco. I went to anti-war demonstrations, I even went to Woodstock. Talk about excess all you want, it was a different kind. I lost several friends who died taking bad trips and some got really truly drunk while doing serious downers. But for the most part, people smoked pot or hashish. There was plenty of sex but somehow it seem more consensual and less controversial. It was all more laid back. Very mellow. No violence, Man.
    Somewhere since, and I think it is because there’s more alcohol binging, it got a lot worse and more violent. There seemed to be more sex-related power-tripping, more force and manipulation to get a boy or a girl to have sex and a kind of exhibitionism about it.
    There is suppose to be an interesting book about Duke and the lacrosse scandal of a few years ago. It raises all of these issues, among them how a decent regional school felt itself compelled to be a “great global university” and this administration led ambition somehow became a symbol for excess.
    I don’t know if this is because kids today face more stress and limited possibilities than my generation did. AFter all, we were out to change the world. It was our friend.

    • The alcohol bingeing is really worrisome. People have been bingeing for a long time but it seems out of control today. And, like you say, alcohol use is associated with violence in a way that grass is not. Combine that with today’s hook-up culture and it’s a combustible mix.

    • I am surprised by the number of fist fights I hear about on college campuses these days. I was at UVA from 1977 – 1981. There were occasional fistfights but they were very rare and usually dealt with harshly. Today, my sons and their friends talk about the many fist fights at college.

      I think Peter is right. Moving the drinking age to 21 encourages binge drinking and that fuels stupidity on many levels.

  4. Could be an issue, but tagging it bourgeois is way too limiting. You never heard of fist fights when I was in college (unless it was a kid getting club by one of the goons on the Boston Tactical Police Force at a demonstration). But you did hear of bad LSD and mescaline trips and rehab a lot. Woodstock was all peace and love and then Altamont, with the Hell’s Angels in charge of security, was a disaster. Maybe you would, but I wouldn’t call the Angels bourgeois. You are trying to make some kind of weird head case in some vain attempt to reinforce your conservative values, when, in fact, the non-violent 60s values were a complete repudiation of those same values you are trying to prop up.

    Typically, you fail. But you have a point that the code is different now and I can’t figure it out.

    It could be some ethical breakdown.

  5. OMG Booze and Sex in college and was there even gambling in the back room at Rick’s in Casablanca–I’m shocked

  6. “It could be some ethical breakdown.”

    It used to be when you got into a fight there was a certain code of honor. Once the winner proved their point, that was the end of it. Now days the loser gets the crap kicked out of them by everybody that is present.

  7. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say I might be the youngest person who comments on this site, at 30 my memories of college are still fairly fresh (though it seems a million years ago as far as who I am today).

    10 years ago, this by no means was a “norm” and I find it hard to believe that in 10 years everything has changed to the point that college is now a full on hedonist party.

    I enjoyed going out in college, I even puked in my fair share of toilets from a night of too much fun (although I was always responsible about it, took cabs, and didn’t enjoy acting a fool in public). I wonder when I see discussion of these subjects if it is sensationalist extrapolation of the “bad eggs”.

    In other words, I wonder if its just that the Pluto Blutarskis of the world have just gotten a bit more insane in this world of YOLOs, synthetic drugs, and tinder hookups but for the most part the normal college kid from 1965 has the same kind of stuff in common with the normal college kid from 2014.

    For all the Faux demagoguery of the pot festival millenials, I find a generation that has been raised post 9-11, knowing nothing in life is ever really given to you, and pulling themselves up from their boot straps whether it be by starting their own brew house, food truck, or other small business venture that I find lacking in the corporate office job culture of the yuppie 80s generation. Perhaps I am just a bit optimistic about (I suppose what one might call my generation) millenials but civic duty, volunteerism, a willingness to break with trends and standards, and having been steeled by this recession makes me think there are great things ahead.

    • I applaud you for your optimistic outlook. For those with skills and drive, the future probably is bright. There just aren’t enough of you, I fear, to lift up the entire generation.

      • I will admit, I’m a fairly well educated person with a 6 figure job so it is inaccurate to use my viewpoint to sum everything about millenials, and absolutely I surround myself with people who share that ambition. But I think you should give some credit to our generation, there is something happening in the zeitgeist when interrupt is by far the most common concept for our generations career and business goals.

        It says a lot and is the perfect word for something a lot of us have in common, the idea that nothing in life should be set in stone whether it be new sources of energy, our politics, technology replacing old methods, rethinking the concept of brick and mortar, and the business of one (ie contracting many sources instead of being in a single job).

        Time will tell as with all things, but I personally think our generation has a few more layers to the onion beyond the snapchatting, no lens glasses wearing, mason jar drinking monochrome depiction we are lumped into.

  8. And the university leaders wonder why they are having a harder and harder time persuading the General Assembly to pour general funds into their institutions to moderate the tuition hikes….

    As to the basic story, damn I guess I was just born at the wrong time. Had there been an orgy at William and Mary forty years ago, everybody would have had a book handy to squeeze in some work between partners…….(I’m not kidding, they were studying in movie theaters and in the stands at what we laughably called “football” games. It would have been the same at an orgy. Maybe I just hung out with all the grinds and nerds.)

  9. I attended college as a day student.. could not afford room&board so my experience is different but I was aware of what went on – on campus in the dorms by talking to fellow students …

    and my view is – that when this movie came out during Ronald Reagans term – it did somewhat reflect current Mores of at least some folks:


    not sure what the current brouhaha is all about.. is it better “reporting”?

  10. Late to comment as usual. Two articles strike me as relevant to the larger question of young people’s behavior: The Atlantic’s on overprotective child rearing by the current crop of parents. At my k-12 school, yes, some 55 years ago, we were expected to work. But now that school’s principal told me recently that parents balk at the notion of their kids working while they pay tuition!

    Then see David Brooks piece in the NYT last Tuesday on “The Streamlined Life,” reporting on U.C.L.A research on incoming freshmen, showing significant changes in attitudes, goals, and expectations over the four decades of surveys. Not encouraging, albeit understandable, with employment anxiety I, for example, never experienced in the mid 1960s: who then worried about getting a job?

    It won’t happen, but a requirement for two years of national service — military, peace corps, teaching, etc. — would perhaps help instill some security and a bit of discipline and community awareness.

  11. always appreciate Mbaldwins temperate thoughts.

    I too favor a national service requirement.

    Typically most folks who go into the Armed Forces end up be the better for it. You will find, for instance, that many, many of our State Troopers and local Deputies cut their eye teeth in the armed services.

    and I would count internships as “service” also and in fact, would support college requirements that internships are required for completing of the degree.

    I know this sounds bad – but I know MORE THAN ONE – young folks who are in college, one to graduate this Spring who have NEVER HAD A JOB of any kind. Both of them expect the college degree to get them a job.

    It’s hard to believe.

  12. Ever watch “fritz the cat?”

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